So that was the fall of 1986.
In thanks for the rides, I made Karen several tapes culled from my collection, including today’s song which I can remember her commenting on approvingly—“you’re older now and you’re a clever swine”—so I’ll dedicate today’s post to her, wherever she may be. From one clever swine to another.
today’s song has the feel I want. Morrissey, in his usual somewhat arch but somewhat sincere fashion, takes stock of “the songs that made you cry / And the songs that saved your life.” And even gives us the perspective of the song as it plays: “I’m here with the cause / I’m holding the torch / In the corner of your room, can you hear me?” It sounds so plaintive. And that bit about “when you lay in awe on your bedroom floor.” That recreates for me the experience of discovering a lot of the songs I’ve been posting about, and it also captures that sense of the songs “so easily outgrown,” that “Rubber Ring” is about.
Which is brilliant, in its way. To write a song about the songs that one loved then forgot, the songs that “changed your life,” but then your life changed again. I must confess though, for all my willingness to make my life take its cues from the music I listen to—the “soundtrack of a life” thing—that I don’t know that I get so goosey about it as the song does. And that’s because, I think, the songs of my past aren’t trapped in the past. I’m always ready to strike up a new relation to them, as with most people I’ve ever met, regardless of whether I knew them well or not.
Hearing “my voice in your head” as Morrissey sings that is on the money. Because even as I hear him singing that I’m hearing his voice in my head from previous times I heard him sing that and times I heard the line in my head when the song wasn’t playing. And I do think of him kindly for that. And of Karen, and of the white Honda, and of the gray Honda, and of Robert Smith and a time—“you make me feel like I am fun again”—called college.
Everybody’s clever nowadays